ESRT Culture

Meet the Board: Tom DeRosa Discusses Work-Life Balance, His West Indian Heritage, and the Value of Legacy in Business

November 28, 2023

Meet ESRT’s employee champion.

Tom DeRosa – recently retired chairman and CEO of Welltower – joined the ESRT Board as the audit committee chair when the company went public due to his extensive experience as a senior executive and director on several public companies. He has since transitioned to human capital and compensation committee chair, where he ensures fair and equitable pay that incentivizes company officers to drive value for shareholders.

Before his time at Welltower, Tom served as vice chairman and CFO at the Rouse Company – a leading owner, operator, and developer of commercial real estate and master-planned residential communities – and spent more than 20 years in investment banking.

Tom is a member of the Global Advisory Board of Value Retail PLC, a U.K.-based owner, operator, and developer of luxury outlet shopping villages in Europe and Asia. His previous board experience includes Dover Corporation, Georgetown University, and Columbia University School of Business.

Tom received a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. from Columbia University.

In a recent conversation with ESRT’s Chief People Officer Kevin Vilke, Tom urged listeners to dig deep into their company’s legacy to uncover its ethos.

See highlights from the conversation below!

On Influence from His Heritage

“I began hearing reggae beats from infancy and that has always been a big comfort to me. I spent two years of high school in Kingston, Jamaica. My mates and I would sneak into clubs to see people like Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh. We’d always get thrown out and then join others who played music on a turntable on the street. Someone would rap over those tunes and that was the start of ‘Dancehall’ music. Music was part of my identity when I was growing up.”

On ESRT’s Future Opportunities

“ESRT is in a great spot to take advantage of the disarray that has begun in the property market in New York City. We’re very well positioned because of our strong balance sheet and the strong skill sets that we have across the business. The company has a unique skill set that allows it to walk into a pre-war building and reimagine it to create a lot of value. We have the template; we’ve done it time and again. We did much of this pre-COVID, so it puts us in a very good position today. In a high interest rate and capital constrained market, our competitors need to play catch-up to get where ESRT is today. The next five years should bring growth opportunities to this company.”

On Work-Life Balance

“Work cannot take over your life. You must maintain an identity that is separate from your work identity. I don’t think it’s good if your work identity becomes your personal identity, and I say that from experience. Sometimes they can overlap, but never let work take over. It’s a balancing act.”

Advice for Employees

“Understand where your company comes from and hopefully you will find inspiration in that. There are many things that get us excited or make us bummed out about what we do, but certain things are constants. We are privileged to work with a high-quality company that has such a fine legacy started by Mr. Wien and carried on through the years by Peter Malkin and Tony Malkin. The integrity and high ethical values demonstrated by ESRT’s leadership over decades is something to be proud of. Organizations like ESRT are not a dime a dozen.”

Learn more about ESRT's Board of Directors!

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